Entrepreneurs are likely to face adversity, rejection and low self-confidence at some point in their journey. This is bound to happen over time, and dealing with these issues can define the success of the entrepreneur and their business.
The secret to bouncing back from these challenges is building resilience. To help, 10 members of Young Entrepreneur Council reflect upon their own entrepreneurial stories and share their insights. Below they discuss their tips for developing a “thicker skin” to handle adversity with grace.
1. Study Other Entrepreneurs’ Failures
Everyone fails until they succeed, including the most successful entrepreneurs. Steve Jobs wasn’t an instant success; he faced many setbacks. Warren Buffet has made bad investments, and Arianna Huffington doesn’t have an unblemished record either. But they persevered, building businesses that will last. Understanding other entrepreneurs’ histories can put things into perspective. No one enjoys rejection and adversity, but you learn and you move on. – Corey Northcutt, Northcutt Enterprise SEO
2. Reflect And Be Honest With Yourself
As painful as it can be at the time, it is helpful to internally review after each major rejection or period of adversity. If you’re honest with yourself, you’ll most importantly be able to learn from any mistakes you’ve made and enhance your professional skills. The painful experience quickly turns into an opportunity for growth, which will set your venture up for success down the road. Another benefit of an internal review is that it provides needed perspective. A startup can quickly feel overwhelming, especially when things aren’t breaking your way, but it is imperative to realize there are only a certain number of things you can control. If you and your team performed well in those aspects, then you can take away some positives in addition to areas to address in future opportunities. – Charles Bogoian, Kenai Sports
3. Work On Building Your Confidence And Expertise
Thicker skin can only come through experience or supreme confidence that you know you’re doing things right. You can thicken skin by messing up on projects and having to deal with rejection from clients. You figure out what mistakes you made and avoid them in the future. You learn that the client is not mad at you, rather at the outcome. You learn to focus on the outcome. Confidence can also help with having thicker skin. You will have confidence by knowing your stuff. If you have facts to back it up, then you can tell a client why they are wrong and what their decision ramifications will have. – Peter Boyd, PaperStreet Web Design
4. Know That Most Things In Business Aren’t Personal
Throughout the last 14 years, I’ve dealt with my fair share of adversity and rejection (especially in the PR field). Knowing that most things in business are not personal is how I deal with adversity and overcome those challenges. I never let failure or rejection define who I am. That’s how I’ve built a thick skin and don’t let these issues bother me. This will not happen overnight but it will happen over time. – Kristin Kimberly Marquet, Marquet Media, LLC
5. Stay Focused On The Present
One way I’ve built a thicker skin over the course of my entrepreneurial journey is keeping my focus on being totally present in the work even when it’s challenging. Rather than worrying about not having a clear path to the end goal I’m working toward, I accept challenges, setbacks and uncertain outcomes as part of the entrepreneurial territory. Greeting challenges with an attitude of acceptance rather than resistance helps me maintain forward momentum. The reality is, there will always be another goal on the horizon as soon as the next one is reached and another challenge once the next is overcome. Practicing being present and doing the best work possible has been the key to me being able to ward off negative emotions when challenges arise and keep improving every day. – Richard Fong, Automatic Growth
6. Avoid The Nay-Sayers
Avoid the nay-sayers and doubters. Surround yourself with people on the same path, and join a mastermind so you can get the accountability and support from those that better understand what your challenges are. When you’ve created momentum in your business, you can start to let a few of those doubters back in if you like. By then you’ll be more confident in your abilities, letting their doubts remain their doubts and not letting them rub off on you. You will always encounter people in your life that will tear you down. It’s not about you, it’s about them. They see you challenging the status quo and making moves to better your life and they feel less confident in themselves, so often without realizing it, they tear you down to level the playing field. You only need a few early wins to grow a thick skin. – John Murphy, eBike Generation
7. Have A Vision Bigger Than Yourself
I think that’s the idea of having a real North Star. If you have something that you truly believe in that connects to you at the very root of your purpose, you will be able to overcome challenges because when things get tough, you will have that anchor to keep you going. Whatever you are dreaming about doing, be sure that it’s bigger than you. – Nicole Munoz, Nicole Munoz Consulting, Inc.
8. Focus On Developing Your Skills
Practice makes perfect. The challenges of entrepreneurship are no different from working out or developing a hard skill. It takes time and perseverance. You’re able to solve simple problems or do a smaller number of repetitions first, get tired and distressed quickly and are willing to give up at any step of the way. Over time, your brain and muscles strengthen up, you move onto more complex challenges and keep progressing slowly but steadily. Adversity and rejection would haunt you over and over, but focusing on your goals and appreciating the lessons learned would be your secret weapon. – Mario Peshev, DevriX
9. Learn Not To Care
To build a thicker skin around your business, learn not to care. It’s a lot easier said than done, but that’s what you need to do. A lot of people won’t believe in you, your ideas or your brand as a whole. If you don’t reach overnight success or even somewhat steady success, it can feel like you’re failing. As long as you keep going, even if that means creating a new idea, that’s what matters. Many business owners try many different things before a business actually sticks and the same could happen to you. Be prepared for the adversity and prepare for it mentally so you don’t feel unmotivated to keep going. – Jared Atchison, WPForms
10. Accept Failure As A Possibility Before You Begin
To build a thicker skin as an entrepreneur, you have to be willing to accept failure before you begin. It might sound a little strange, but it’s important not to see failure as a negative thing. Sure, it’s not what you wanted to happen, but that doesn’t mean you won’t eventually reach success. Many entrepreneurs start multiple businesses until they create one that sticks and brings in revenue. Remind yourself that it’s OK to get it wrong and to keep trying until you get it right. Luckily, there are many resources available online to guide you on your journey. You can also seek out a mentor who can push you in the right direction and challenge you. – Stephanie Wells, Formidable Forms